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Missouri Times owner gave lawyer $50,000 before Greitens indictment, defense claims

Missouri Times owner gave lawyer $50,000 before Greitens indictment, defense claims

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Updated with comments from Scott Faughn

ST. LOUIS • A defense lawyer for Gov. Eric Greitens said in court Monday that Scott Faughn, an owner of the Missouri Times, gave $50,000 cash to lawyer Al Watkins, who represents the ex-husband of the woman who accused the governor of taking a partially nude photo of her in 2015.

Faughn, in a 16-minute broadcast on social media Monday, said that he had hired Watkins while he was conducting "research" on Greitens for a book he was planning. He did not address whether he gave Watkins $50,000 in cash or the original source of the money.

Faughn did not respond to inquiries from the Post-Dispatch seeking more information about the payment.

"This is the juiciest story of all time, and the fact that I'm now in it is unfortunate for me on one level," Faughn said, taking a sip from a beer stein. He did say his involvement could help him publicize his planned book. "It's probably fortunate for that."

The other $50,000 payment to Watkins' Clayton law firm in January was delivered by a courier known to Watkins only by a first name, Greitens' defense lawyer Jim Martin said in court.

Watkins was being deposed Monday about the source of two anonymous $50,000 cash payments that he told reporters last week were delivered to his office in January. Watkins said he didn't know who the donor was; his lawyer argued in court last week that he couldn't reveal the source because one of Watkins' clients "was involved" in the cash delivery.

After identifying Faughn as one of the sources, Martin suggested Faughn has political ties to a group "upset that their tax credits were taken away" but did not elaborate.

"If he doesn't have any clue what the source of those funds, that's not credible," Martin said in court.

Watkins' lawyer Chuck Hatfield said in court Monday that Watkins doesn't know the original source or sources of the money, only that Faughn delivered the first of two $50,000 payments.

"He doesn't know beyond that where it came from," Hatfield said.

When Hatfield asked for more time or to have the rest of Watkins' deposition completed through written questions, Martin objected, calling Watkins "a slippery fellow" who could not be trusted to provide written responses.

Hatfield argued that Watkins shouldn't have to answer additional questions about the payments, arguing that information is privileged because an attorney-client relationship was born when Faughn and Watkins had previous discussion about the transfer of money.

Circuit Judge Rex Burlison disagreed, adding that Greitens' defense lawyers will be allowed "to probe the veracity" of Watkins' answers about the money.

Burlison gave Watkins' lawyers until 1 p.m. Tuesday to appeal the decision.

As Watkins and his lawyers left the courthouse after the hearing, Hatfield said Watkins would not be answering any questions.

"As much as it pains me," Watkins added.

Lawyers for Greitens went back upstairs to resume another deposition.

Faughn, a fomer mayor of Poplar Bluff, started the SEMO times, an alternative weekly in Poplar Bluff, Mo., in 2008. He was tapped toward the end of 2012 by former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton to serve as publisher of the Missouri Times, a free online publication with a subscription-only weekly print edition.

Faughn was convicted by a Cape Girardeau County jury in 2007 of forging checks on an account for a highway project. He was fined $1,500.

Faughn said on social media Monday that he obtained tapes from Watkins but did not publish them before news of Greitens' affair broke in January. He said he had never spoken with the ex-husband, who released a tape in January he said he recorded of his then-wife in 2015 admitting to an affair with Greitens.

Faughn said he did not turn over the tapes he obtained to anyone.

"I'm just greedy," Faughn said. "And so when I obtained them, it was for me.”

A special House committee investigating the allegations against the governor is expected to subpoena Faughn and has subpoenaed Watkins.

Also Monday, Burlison said he could rule by next Monday whether the woman's testimony will be admitted at the governor's trial after the former lead investigator on the case refused to answer questions under oath.

Burlison made the announcement after Greitens' defense team said it intends to ask that all testimony the woman and her friend, who were interviewed by former FBI agent William Don Tisaby, be stricken from the record.

Greitens' trial on a felony charge of invasion of privacy is set for May 14. The governor is accused of taking a partially nude photo of the woman without her consent in March 2015 during a sexual encounter in the basement of his home in the Central West End.

Jack Suntrup of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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